Malé, Maldives – Maldives Airports Company Limited (MACL) has refused to reveal the salary of the CEO of the company citing that the company, despite being a state owned enterprise, does not classify as a ‘government institution’.
In a hearing held at the Informations Commissioner’s Office (ICOM), the company highlighted that the company does not have to comply with the Right To Informations Act (RTI Act), as it is not a government institution.
It this the belief of this company that such information cannot be relied to individuals. We do not believe that we are a government institution as per the RTI Act. We also do not believe that the information requested is public information.Aminath Nasreena, Head of Legal Section, MACL
After ending two hearings against MACL on Sunday, Information Commissioner Hussain Fiyaz Moosa said that MACL is a government company and that the company represents the public’s shares.
It is clear that it is a state institution. We will hopefully make a decision on the other companies (state owned enterprises who refused to give out information previously)Hussain Fiyaz Moosa, Information Commissioner of Maldives
Fiyaz also clarified that as per part (f) of article 72 of the RTI Act, even state owned companies fall under the ‘government institutions’ category and that this has also been clarified by the Attorney General’s Office.
He further added that state owned enterprises often state that the RTI Act does not apply to them, if the information requested by the public is not something which they wish to divulge. However, he highlighted that the same companies, under the same Act, have released other information to the public.
The two hearings held today were regarding an RTI form submitted by journalist Husham Mohamed, who requested the salary and allowances given to the CEO of MACL, and the other by founder of zinmaadhaaru.com, which is an independent, non profit, non governmental platform aiming to make the government more accountable, Aimon Latheef, to clarify salaries and allowances given out to all employees of the the company.
Speaking to ‘The Times of Addu’ Aimon revealed that he has applied RTI forms to all state owned enterprises, to clarify the salaries given out to their employees, and that no company has so far released any information.
He further highlighted how one such case is now at the High Court, pending a verdict, where the company has refused to release information requested under the RTI Act, citing that the regulation made by ICOM including state owned companies among state institutions overrules the RTI Act, which only stipulated that the Act applies to state institutions.
The RTI Act was ratified by President Abdullah Yameen Abdul Qayyoom in 2014, and was formulated to allow more transparency and accountability within the government. However, as the government struggles to implement a law, which was made by the government, on government institutions and government owned enterprises, citizens continue to remain in limbo.